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Shot Caller: A Podcast by Shannon Sagawe

Sep 8, 2021

Joe Clement and Matt Miles are two veteran teachers from the Washington DC area who could no longer stand by and watch the systematic "dumbing down" of the students they were teaching. 

As the proliferation of digital devices increased, both at home and in schools, they saw direct correlations to cognitive decline, lack of critical thinking, short attention spans, apathy, addictive behaviour, fragile sense of identity, anxiety and depression explode.

Their book, Screen Schooled, was published as a wake up call to parents and school administrators.  According to Matt and Joe, "Rather than becoming better problem solvers, kids look to Google to answer their questions for them. Rather than deepening students’ intellectual curiosity, educational technology is too often cumbersome and distracting, causing needless frustration and greatly extending homework time. Rather than becoming the great equalizer, electronic devices are widening the achievement gap."

Joe and Matt want to empower parents with this "wake-up" call to engage with educators on the proliferation of digital devices and screens in every day education as well as to take a long, hard look at the amount of time your children are spending on devices in a purely "passive, entertainment" mode.  

Highlights from Episode 1:

  • Schools are double down on  removing accountability from students
  • Students complain that school is "harder" because it is "easier and less challenging."
  • Our children are losing out on resilience by our insistence, as parents, to protect them from every failure and bump in the road.  Their future will not be so protective and we need to give them the tools to cope, not remove all resilience from their lives.
  • 78% of screen time is devoted to "passive" involvement vs. only about 3% in "active content creation."
  • In 2017;
    • Infants were spending on average, 90 minutes a day on a screen,
    • Toddlers about 2 hours a day
    • By age 4, they were spending 4 hours a day
    • Tweens (8-12) averaged 6 hours a day
    • Teenagers were spending 9 hours a day on a device
  • The awful invention of the Apptivity Seat by Fisher Price; allowing babies and toddlers to be strapped into a chair with an IPAD projected in their face. They have no tactile interaction and have no ability to move away from these screens. Truly an insidious invention.
  • Proliferation and access to pornographic material from very early ages.
    • 88% of pornographic material displays physical violence
    • 50% of pornographic material displays verbal abuse
    • In a 2002 study, Viagra prescriptions rose 312% amongst 18-45 year olds!
  • The discussion of Operant Conditioning in education
  • The detriment to lower income and single families whose parents may be working more than one job.  Screen time in these families is worryingly high.  
  • The metrics on boys vs. girls on almost every measure shows boys being savaged by girls in accomplishments.  Their analysis is the higher "addiction" to gaming with boys is acting as an accelerant to this issue. 

Additional Resources:

Publishers Weekly review of Screen Schooled

In Part II, we discuss further the mental health impact and some best practices for parents going forward.


Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, check out some of our other podcasts with revolutionaries, change makers and inspiring people!

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